The specialty restaurant
When Queen Victoria entered service, she had one purpose-built specialty restaurant. Then as now that venue is the Todd English Restaurant. [Note: The Todd English has now been replaced by the Verandah Restaurant] It is open to all guests for dinner and for lunch on sea days. There is an extra charge for this venue. (See our review)
“It was first launched on the Queen Mary 2 and it worked extremely well there because she carries a lot of American passengers on the transatlantics. Todd English is a celebrity chef who has done very well in America. He is a Boston-based chef. He is not well known in England. It just sounds very English.”
“It is a Californian-Mediterranean fusion cuisine. It is very rich. Americans like it. British struggle a little bit with it. They enjoy it but they are not going to come back two or three times during a voyage. It is fully booked most of the time. Lunch is stronger than dinners.”
Queen Victoria now offers what Cunard calls “alternative dining” in the Lido Restaurant. The Lido is the ship’s buffet restaurant but the alternative dining is not a buffet meal. Rather, this is full service dining with waiters.
“The Lido is basically in three sections. You have port side and starboard side, which are identical and then you have the center section in the front where the sandwich stations are and the live cooking. We just close off one. It gives us a seating capacity of about 60 maximum. We don’t double book it. [You have the table] for the evening.”
“There is a minimal cover charge of $10. It is more of a gratuity for the waiters, it does not go into the food cost.”
Alternative dining “is very popular. It is mostly for the people who have a special occasion. It is the most scenic point to have dinner. Leaving the fjords or going in and out of ports, it is great. It is a very enjoyable experience.”
While the physical location remains the same for each of the alternative dining options, the type of food changes and with it the name of the restaurant. “You have the Coriander, which is authentic Indian food. This is extremely popular with the British guests. We have the Asian food. We have the Prime, which is basically an American steakhouse. In the colder weather, we have a fondue menu, everything is cooked by yourself on the table. It is very social with sharing of food on the table. It is very relaxed.”
“We normally run [each option] for three consecutive nights.” The alternative dining is open to all guests.
The Lido Restaurant is a popular venue for breakfast and lunch. Guests can also have informal afternoon tea and snacks there during the day.
In addition, the Lido offers dinner options beyond the alternative dining options. “The Lido alternative dining is one side and on the other is the evening buffet.”
“We run the buffet and we run theme nights as well. It was Mexican the other night, German last night, as we go into Greece, it will be a Greek evening. We try and link it to the locations we are in. It is very nice, casual and people enjoy that. You can sit outside if you wish.”
“There is always a fresh cooking station like on the seafood night, they will be cooking seafood in front of you. The fish is fresh and it will be cooked to your liking. Then we have a steak night, where we have ten different cuts of meat that will be cooked to your liking.”
Another popular casual venue is the Golden Lion Pub. “We have the lunch in the pub, which is a British fare. We have now started doing a pub dinner [on some evenings] as well, which some people quite enjoy. They don’t want to be bothered having to go to the [dining room] half way through a soccer match. ‘Why don’t we stay here and have another beer or glass of wine.’ We also link it to some type of entertainment in the pub - - a quiz night or jazz - - we link the food to that.”
On the open deck at the aft end of the ship is the Lido Pool Grill. It is essentially a poolside, light lunch venue. However, “you can’t do the same thing over and over again each day. You have to put some different things in there. So we do a German sausage thing, a bit of Mexican food, a bit of this and a bit of that just to spice it up. You can’t just do hamburgers and hot dogs. You keep those as a staple but you just add a few things that are different.”
For the same reason, this area is also used from time-to-time in the evening. “We have dinner on the open deck weather depending. If the ship is not moving or is going very slowly, you can do this on the aft deck.”
“We have a small bistro menu, very simple. It is fresh salmon, steak, Caesar salad - - all the favorites that you could serve just about everyday. It is a no-booking thing. You get there from 7:30 afterwards We have done it for the sailaway quite often. People just like it. It is informal. It is lovely, especially in good weather.”
“You throw in the odd thing now and then as an ad hoc thing, which causes a bit of a surprise, which the guests enjoy.”
In addition to the dining options discussed above, Queen Victoria offers a formal afternoon tea in the Queens Room each day. Guests can also enjoy specialty coffees and pastries in the Café Carinthia.
Cruise ship restaurant revew - - Cunard Line - - Queen Victoria - - Dining Guide - - Bernhard Fischer - - page two